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Malik (2/8/10)

On Saturday I finally tried out the last feature of The Beatles Rock Band that I had neglected since the game launched. I'm talking about the multiple vocal track feature. I was able to play with two friends on vocals, while I took the third part while playing expert guitar.

Originally, I thought The Beatles was a good game and built on the RB style nicely. However, after doing this triple vocal play, my impression has only improved. I mean being able to get additional vocals is a blast, and it's a bit fun doing the chaos of expert guitar while also adding to the backing vocals. Of course, I didn't exactly hit my pitch too well, or play my guitar part all that solidly when I had both parts to do. Since the backing vocals are not required for the vocals to stay afloat on the rock meter, this was not a huge problem and made it all that much more fun when we could hit a triple fab rating (perfect on all three vocal parts in a vocal phrase).

Anyway, the big event of the weekend was the Super Bowl. I have to say I enjoyed the game, even if the announcing team sucked and the ads were mostly mediocre (not to mention insulting to see $2.5 million was spent by the US government on those annoying Census commercials during a budget crisis). I mean the game was excellent and the half time was great (I mean it's The Who).

I'm glad that the Saints won. On one hand, they were the underdogs and really deserve to finally make the big time after having such a bad run of post season play in the last 40+ years. Also, when a team plays this gutsy of a game plan, it's even more exciting to see them win with some amazingly ballsy plays. The first quarter was a bit lame with the constant failures of the Saints on defense (if you pressure Manning too many times, he'll just use the run game to humiliate your defense), but it all turned around with some nice high risk plays. For me, the play of the game, and the play that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, had to be the second half kick off. An on-side kick is a risky move when you're down with only a few minutes left to play. When it's not a distant game (it was four points to start the second half), and after keeping the other team away from the ball for the last 15 minutes of play, it is a statement of who you are and what you're going to do for the rest of the day.

Then, when you add in the two point conversion and the interception that was ran in for a touch down...well, it's obvious the Saints came to Miami not only ready to play, but ready to destroy anything in their way.

Best of all, with the Super Bowl done, I can now leave the NFL behind for the next half a year. After seeing how low the Seahawks could go this year, I need the break from sports. MLS and MLB are a couple months out, so I can now focus on taking back my weekends for a while and getting back to a reality that is not full of disappointment and pain.


Malik (2/10/10)

If you were in the right, or wrong, market/region during the Super Bowl, there was an ad that played itself to death. I'm talking about an ad that ran in the Seattle area at least four times, probably more. It also ran around San Francisco, Dallas, and Las Vegas. It's another one of those ads, like the American Census ad, that can make you pretty annoyed when you consider how much money it cost to air and produce, since it's another government funded ad.

I'm talking about the Air Force Reserve recruitment ad that showed hip young people doing hip young people extreme (or is that, when the government does it, "x-treme"?) things. In other words, it's one of the two standard templates for military ads. Either you're an elite soldier or you are a cool person who will not be brought down by the military since they obviously must welcome a hip culture.

The funny thing about this ad is that it made at least one of my friends comment on how the song being played in the background should be in Rock Band. We all agreed. I mean we knew and loved the song, since it's none other than "Fell In Love With a Girl" from The White Stripes. Yeah, the vocal track and the drums were omitted, but the guitar riff was 100% unique and obviously Fell In Love With a Girl.

The incredibly funny thing about this ad, and I mean hilarious and not just anecdotal when I say "funny" is the response from this.'s neither funny nor anything else except obvious when The White Stripes will come forward, naturally a little unhappy, since they "don't want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict." The funny part is how adamant the US Air Force is being in saying that this is an original song made by an ad agency only for the commercial and "any similarity or likeness to any other music is completely unintentional."

The Air Force Reserve is using the same line of arrogant logic that had Vanilla Ice saying the bass line of Under Pressure was not ripped off for Ice Ice Baby. Or the same logic that has Carlos Mencia or Dane Cook claiming to write original comedy material.

I just find it funny in the modern age how so many things are so clearly ripped off by people who have the charisma to reach an audience, but are too damned lazy or uncreative to generate their own unique message/work/whatever when they finally reach their target audience. It's one thing if you hire your own writer (that's called a business relationship), but it's another thing when you just steal someone's work and call it your own (and it's only worse when it's the government doing said intellectual theft). I'd just love to hear what the agency behind the actual "composing" of the song has to say about this.

Also, I'm glad to know that The White Stripes haven't gone the complete sell out path in licensing their music to the military.


Malik (2/11/10)

I finally finished Dragon Age Origins last night. I was trying to drag out the act of finishing the game. I mean it's a very solid RPG experience, and it felt a little sad to know that the end was coming...especially since I have nothing else lined up right now to entertain myself on this level. Also, it's a lot less fun to play games when you've stabbed your hand a few days ago and using a mouse is a source of pain.

I may have started off not too impressed with DAO, but by the end I was able to see the genius behind Bioware's development. Yes, there were a few problems, with the main one being the lack of streamlining DLC. Seriously, no game should inform you, in the process of playing the game, that your adventure is nerfed due to missing DLC. I had the deluxe edition, which gave me Warden's Keep and The Stone Prisoner, plus I bought Return to Ostagar on the first day it was given a permanent release, but I still thought it lame when a friend, who didn't get the DLC, went on to tell me about how the game demanded his credit card to ensure the world is fully saved from the darkspawn menace. At least the DLC, when purchased, was really well entwined into the mythos of the standard game.

I also had some trouble finding a reason to care about this world to start. It felt like a bad Lord of the Rings clone, with nothing to really stand out apart from any other generic RPG. Well, that's the most important change in my impression of DAO as I finished the game last night. I actually more than became interested in the world...I started to care about the changes that would happen based on the decisions I made during the game. Most of all, I honestly wanted more from each of the characters. There was not a lifeless party member, in terms of personality and story, and even the bulk of NPCs, in a world filled with hundreds of NPCs, felt fully fleshed out and enthralling. I haven't seen that in a RPG since...well...maybe I have never seen this "living" of a game world before.

While there's been some complaints about the ending on the inter-webz, I honestly don't see where these complaints can really come from. The ending, any of them (there are several), starts with a scene or two acted out in the game. From there, you may have some interactions, or you may not, with the people who fought the good fight with you. After that, some nicely prepared artwork is displayed as text boxes appear to inform you of what happened to the world, based on your decisions. These text boxes are the source of many complaints...but when you have hundreds (ok...dozens) of possible scenarios that could play out, it may be asking too much to count on a fully acted out movie to wrap up the game. Plus, with a lower tech ending method, this means that many of your minor exploits will be explained at the end, and nothing feels forgotten.

For example, there's a kid who is hiding, in a cupboard, while undead ravage his village each night. If you find the kid, you may talk him into letting you use his grandfather's prized sword. If you promise to return the sword to the kid, and do manage to return it to him (which is not even a "quest" as much as just a possible dialogue option you must go a bit out of your way to happen upon), then this is explained in the ending. It will go on to say what the kid grew up to become, and his tales of your character. This is a very minor event, but with a text ending, it is an event that can be given life.

I have never felt as satisfied with the ending of a game as I have with DAO. This game just makes you feel like a story has been completed, while still leaving you awaiting the next tale in this world. Of course that's a good thing with DAO Awakening (the expansion) coming out next month.

In the end, I can hardly think of a single complaint about this game. Yes, the memory leak is a bitch, but it can be handled by simply quitting the game and restarting it every couple of hours. Yes, the DLC issue is annoying, and RtO was a lame DLC not worthy of forcing it's way into your game's story. Also, some of the game spells feel a little underdeveloped (the animate dead spell is too useless for being the final spell in a group). However, these issues can all be easily ignored when they occur in such an amazing game.


Malik (2/12/10)

Next week will be another round of DLC for Rock Band with plenty of new artists. After the metal stuff this week, it'll be nice to have things slowed down a bit with some good old Otis Redding, and some Brian Setzer is nice as well.

I don't have much else to say, since I'm in that state of limbo of feeling like I need a break from gaming for a short bit. Well, not as much of a break as much as I don't have any games lined up while I enjoy being done with Dragon Age Origins. Also, I'm a bit out of gaming while I deal with a hand injury keeping me from enjoying my usual favorites, like Rock Band.


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